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  #1  
Old 12-26-2008, 10:49 PM
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I am not really a gun person but I was fortunate enough to recently inherit a revolver that was once my great-grandfathers. This is what I know about the gun and a brief history. I first saw the gun several years ago when my grandfather possessed it. He relayed to me that it was his fathers and that he had bought it for very cheap from a gentleman that did not like it because it was dangerous to own due to the fact that it was too bright and would shine too brightly when the lights went out in the middle of a bar fight. My great-grandfather died in 1923. I am not sure when he passed it on to my grandfather.

The markings on the gun are as follows: On the butt, the inside of the cylinder, and on the underside of the barrel it is marked with 181XXX. From my little research I have done on this site I am guessing that this is the serial number. It is also marked with 7357 on both the cylinder arm and also on the inside of the frame next to where the cylinder closes. On the left side of the gun it is marked with “38 S. & W. SPECIAL CTG”. On the right side is says “SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A PATT’D MARCH. 27. 94. MAY. 21. 95. AUG. 4. 96. DEC 22. 96. OCT.8. 01. DEC. 17. 01 FEB. 6. 06. SEPT. 14. 09.”. It also has what looks like a Smith and Wesson logo that has “Trade Mark” over the top and bottom of the logo.

I was wondering what approximate year the gun was produced, what model number it may be, and what If any value it may have? Also was it likely that the gun was produced as is or has it been modified? As you can tell it seems to be in great condition. I do not think that my grandfather has ever fired the gun and I believe it has been in his possession for a long time, most likely 70-80 years.
Any info would be helpful. I know that after a few generations within a family a story can be forgotten or changed, so I am curious as to whether the facts surrounding this gun will support our family’s version of its history.

Thanks in advance for you help.











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Old 12-26-2008, 10:49 PM
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I am not really a gun person but I was fortunate enough to recently inherit a revolver that was once my great-grandfathers. This is what I know about the gun and a brief history. I first saw the gun several years ago when my grandfather possessed it. He relayed to me that it was his fathers and that he had bought it for very cheap from a gentleman that did not like it because it was dangerous to own due to the fact that it was too bright and would shine too brightly when the lights went out in the middle of a bar fight. My great-grandfather died in 1923. I am not sure when he passed it on to my grandfather.

The markings on the gun are as follows: On the butt, the inside of the cylinder, and on the underside of the barrel it is marked with 181XXX. From my little research I have done on this site I am guessing that this is the serial number. It is also marked with 7357 on both the cylinder arm and also on the inside of the frame next to where the cylinder closes. On the left side of the gun it is marked with “38 S. & W. SPECIAL CTG”. On the right side is says “SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A PATT’D MARCH. 27. 94. MAY. 21. 95. AUG. 4. 96. DEC 22. 96. OCT.8. 01. DEC. 17. 01 FEB. 6. 06. SEPT. 14. 09.”. It also has what looks like a Smith and Wesson logo that has “Trade Mark” over the top and bottom of the logo.

I was wondering what approximate year the gun was produced, what model number it may be, and what If any value it may have? Also was it likely that the gun was produced as is or has it been modified? As you can tell it seems to be in great condition. I do not think that my grandfather has ever fired the gun and I believe it has been in his possession for a long time, most likely 70-80 years.
Any info would be helpful. I know that after a few generations within a family a story can be forgotten or changed, so I am curious as to whether the facts surrounding this gun will support our family’s version of its history.

Thanks in advance for you help.











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  #3  
Old 12-27-2008, 01:27 AM
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Welcome to the forum! I believe your revolver is a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 3rd. change. I am away from my references at the moment, but I'll guess it is 1909-1915 vintage, probably in the early range of that production because it still has the large ejector knob from previous models which I think was one of the engineering changes. The "change" refers to engineering changes as the model evolved. The time frame of your family's oral history and the production range, of this revolver, appear to be perfectly compatible. The grips may or may not be factory original. My guess is they are probably aftermarket, but could have been special ordered from the factory. Generally, it is widely thought that factory original pearl grips should have the S&W medallions. I assure you that several experts will be along in short order to add to this discussion concerning that subject.

The nickel appears to be original from your photos, the hammer and trigger correctly color case hardened. If it is a refinish, it has been very well done, but none of the tell tale signs of a refinish are apparent to me, based again, on your photos. A historical letter from Roy Jinks at S&W, will establish the condition it was shipped in, finish, barrel length and where and when it was shipped. Well worth the modest cost to determine the provenance of your family heirloom.

I regret I cannot offer you an approximate shipping date as they were frequently shipped out of sequence, but the true ship date will be confirmed in the letter from Roy, should you choose to do so.

As to value I'd grade the revolver at the high condition end, and if it were mine, would think conservatively $675 to $700 because of the excellent overall condition of the nickel finish, bore and cylinder chambers. As a premium, the Mother of Pearl stocks if confirmed as factory original, an additional premium of at least $100 to $200. I think the correct standard production stocks were checkered walnut with medallion for this model. I mention that in the event the pearls turn out to be aftermarket and you wish to acquire the correct stocks. If it were new in the original box.....$1000.00 to $1500.00 easily.

It's a lovely example, you should be very delighted to possess such a fine memento of your ancestors. Best of luck and again, welcome to the forum. I hope this information is helpful.
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Old 12-27-2008, 05:35 AM
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Welcome to the forum...

As oldflatfoot said, collectors term this model as a .38 Military & Police Model of 1905 3rd change. About 94,800 were produced during the 1909 - 1915 time period. Yours looks to be a pretty nice example. As for the pearl grips. Typically, by this time, all factory pearl grips had the S&W monogram inserts. I say typically because I've learned that nothing is absolute with S&W. Hard to tell from the pics how well the grips are fit. In certain angles, they look to fit well enough to be factory. Other angles they look to be not flush the frame.

Very nice heirloom. If it were mine, I would surely request a historical letter. The letter will tell you when and where it shipped and its configuration when it left the factory. (if the information is available in the records) Even if it doesn't confirm the pearls ( which it more than likely will not) it is a family heirloom well worth the endeavor.

Very nice revolver. Thanks for showing it to us.
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:13 AM
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The factory would have called it a Model of 1902 M&P, due to the round butt. The serial number fits known guns in the 1911-12 era. I don't know if the factory stamped an N for nickel that early on the left side of the grip frame or back of cylinder but you might look. Nice gun.
Below is a box of Winchester ammo which might have been sold along with the gun when it was new. This label pattern indicates 1908-13.
Ed
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:59 AM
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What are the black rings on the front end of the cylinder? They look too perfect to be residue.
Ed
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Old 12-27-2008, 07:20 AM
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Ed,

The black rings appear to be perfectly normal carbon rings from firing the gun.

I agree, it looks like it may be original nickel finnish from the pictures. The OP has a nice piece of his family history.
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:26 AM
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Mhardy,
Wow, nice gun, and great first post. I can's really add to what knowledge these guys have given to you because I don't know it. But it's nice to see that you figured out how to use the forum with pictures and you actually gave us all the info with the pictures. I'm sure you will learn almost everything you want to about this fine gun from the knowledgeable folks who hang around here.

Bill
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  #9  
Old 12-27-2008, 09:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by smith17:
The factory would have called it a Model of 1902 M&P, due to the round butt.
This is correct, but to avoid confusing our new member concerning the factory reference nomenclature versus actual production period nomenclature, we should state that the factory designation "Model of 1902" is rarely used by collectors to identify round butt 1905's. Production period 1902's are much earlier in the M&P serial range. Like this one. Note that the stocks in the photo are incorrect for this early Model of 1902. Black hard rubber stocks were correct production standard.


Another good point made by smith 17 is the ammo. This revolver is certainly earlier than the first heat treated cylinders and I would excercise some caution if you choose to shoot it. Personally, I would not because it is in such nice shape. For me at least, it is a very handsome representative specimen not often found at this level of original condition.
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Old 12-27-2008, 10:55 AM
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The gun is late 1911 / early 1912, and I agree that factory pearls would have had
gold medallions. The gun looks original, from the pin ends on the left side of
the frame.

The black on the front of the cylinder is the typical burn marking that shows
up on nickel finish. That can be removed with a careful cleaning using BRASSO,
for example. Then clean it will with some solvent, and then apply some oil.

The best advice I can offer is to write that story down, very carefully and with
as much detail as possible, including names, etc.

Later, Mike Priwer
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:10 PM
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Thanks everyone for the information that you have provided. It is great to validate what we had been thinking all along. Here are just a few more questions I have.

-How should I be storing this gun? Could I put it out on display or should it be tucked away somewhere?

-It hasn't been shot in along time. Does it need to be cleaned anyway? And if so is there anything I should be aware of not to use on a firearm this old?

-Lastly I would like to get a letter of authenticity, but the S&W webbsite says they are on hold right now? Any idea as to when this will re-open?

Thanks again and here are a few more pictures of the grips.





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Old 12-27-2008, 06:38 PM
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Just don't use Hoppies on it, it will remove the finish. After a good cleaning I would put a good wax like Mothers mag wax on it.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:06 PM
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mhardy, Welcome to the forum. That's a very nice old revolver, thanks for sharing it with us. I'm sure having been your Great-Grandfathers it's got special value to you. Please keep it in your family where it belongs & enjoy it. Thanks Frank
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Old 01-08-2009, 01:36 PM
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I would really like to get this revolver lettered. Is there any idea as to when they will re-open the service?
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Old 01-12-2009, 07:38 AM
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Do not clean it with, nor get it near any products containing ammonia.
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Old 12-30-2009, 05:06 PM
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Default Factroy Letter Recieved

My parents decided to surprise me for Christmas and sent away for the factory letter. I am impressed to say that the feedback I received from members was completely accurate.

It was interesting to note that the gun was originally sent to St. Louis and some how made the trek out to Utah within the first few years of its life.

One last note, it confirms what many thought was the case that the pearl grips are after market. Since I received the gun with these grips I plan on keeping them but I would like to also purchase the correct black rubber grips that the factory letter specifies it came with.

That said I have been looking for them on line and have a few questions. First is this revolver considered a K frame?

I found these for sale on gun broker and was wondering if these would be what the letter is referring to as the correct grips?

S&W Mod. 1905 38 Spl & 32-20 Hard Rubber Grips : Grips at GunBroker.com

Any feed back on which grips this gun would have originally came with would be great.

Thanks,

Matt Hardy
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Old 12-30-2009, 06:41 PM
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Those are the right-size grips, but if that photo is accurate, there is something wrong with those. They have the wrong texture, and the screw is the wrong color, and maybe the wrong pitch.



Later, Mike Priwer
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:19 PM
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Matt,

Let me also welcome you to the Forum and congratulate you on your fine family heirloom...a real beauty.

I'll add one little bit about the company where your gun was first shipped. St. Louis was a major shipping point in the mid-west in the 19th and early 20th Century. (Some called it the "jumping off place".) The Norvell Shapleigh Hardware Co. was a significant distributor for Smith & Wesson and Colt handguns along with all sorts of other items which were necessary for the development of the Southwest and West. You can probably find a great deal more information about them on the web.

Bob
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:40 AM
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Default Model 1905 3rd Change w/factory medallion pearl grips

mhardy:

I also have a Model 1905 3rd change at serial #232409. Mine is a nickeled 4" barrel but this gun has it's original factory medallion pearl grips. These are the right type of grips for this gun and of the time period. I have yet to letter this gun.

Nickeled .38 M&P Model 1905 3rd Change w/factory medallion pearl grips

jsmith



.38 Hand Ejector Model 1905, 3rd Change, Serial#232409, Nickeled w/4" barrel and factory medallion pearl grips
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:10 PM
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These are not the correct type of grips for my 1905. As you can see from the letter that mine was shipped with rubber checkered grips. I was hoping I could see an example of what they would have looked like as per the letter.

Also is this considered a K Frame?
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Old 12-31-2009, 07:18 PM
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Is this what they would have looked like?
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Old 12-31-2009, 08:21 PM
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Yes - this is what they look like :



Later, Mike Priwer
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Old 01-01-2010, 02:43 PM
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Default Grips on GB

mhardy;
I'd like to add my agreement with Mike Priwer's opinion that the grips you found on Gunbroker are not correct. Besides the texture that Mike cites, you can see that the escutcheons are bright brass and the screw is brass. You can see in the "correct grips" photo that original grips would have been equipped with nickel-plated brass or steel escutcheons and a steel screw. Wait for an original pair.

Larry

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